Somalia deserves the support of the international community – UM

President Farmaajo opening the Somali Partnership Forum in Mogadishu December 5, 2017. Photo: Villa Somalia

Mogadishu (UM) This week Somalia hosted the Somali Security and Partnership Forums in Mogadishu in which the Federal Government, Federal Member States and the International community came together to discuss the current successes and remaining challenges since the last London conference in May.

In these two meetings, it was clear that Somali has made serious progress in both security and development but that real challenges remained in both areas which needs further international support to overcome. The international community welcomed the growing trust between the Somali Federal Government and the Federal Member States as well as the great legislative and policy drive to achieve the Government’s priorities of security, good governance and economic growth. It was also very clear that the Somali Government was well coordinated, united and promoting the same vision as the President and the Prime Minister. This is enormous progress from just a few years ago when Somali politics was characterised by division and political paralysis.

The two international conferences in Mogadishu on Somalia’s future produced outcomes that clearly were favourable for Somalia, including, a Mutual Accountability Framework. However, the main concern with the both security and development agenda is sustainable financing.

Despite the great efforts of the Federal Government to raise domestic revenue, the Government is unable to realistically finance the security sector and the development project and policies it has prioritised. The entire 2018 budget of the Federal Government is just under $275 million USD which is insufficient to cover the full expenditure of the Government. So, in all areas of priority, including, security, economic development and the constitutional review process, international partner’s support will be valuable.

There is a great amount of goodwill towards the new Government led by President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo on the part of the international community and this was evident in the Mogadishu conferences. Of course, there are those partners who expressed frustration in some areas of progress, including security, but turning around a fragile nation like Somalia is always going to need a long-term vision underlined by patience and the optimism of eventual success. The international community must believe, as does the Government, that Somalia’s best days are ahead and that this should be the guiding principle of their support. A strong, progressive and economically prosperous Somalia is good not just for its people, but for the region and the world.

The great highlight of the Conference in terms of pledged support was the over $300 million USD allocated by USAID for the strengthening of Somali institutions, delivery of public services, including, education and health and the growth of the private sector. These are all valuable as they are historic but the extent of the international community’s support to Somalia is far greater than this.

The Somali Government has many steadfast international partners, but they must all work towards improving Somali institutions, strengthening the country systems and delivering projects that have a real impact on the ground rather than on paper. On their part, the Somali Government must insist on value for money in all projects and national reach to strength the federalism process. More importantly, the Somali Government must establish robust oversight mechanism of all contractors who have for too long enjoyed total immunity from taxes whilst delivering very little to the Somali people.  Even better, the Government should insist on all contractors buying locally and employing more local people where they can to boost domestic revenue and job creation as most Grants and development assistance aims to do anyway.

Somalia is genuinely making recognisable progress which the people can feel. The Government, despite their limitations, seems determined to achieve its priorities and the leadership for the first time is leading reforms rather than hindering it. Based on this there is great expectations of progress on the part of the Somali people. The international community must now prove the weight of their commitment and the sincerity of their pledges by continuing to support the Federal Government to achieve Nabad and Nolol. Somalia is no longer a hopeless case but a beacon of hope that has much to teach and give to the world.